Teaching engineering ethics using role-playing in a culturally diverse student group
Author: Prince, Robert
Source: Science and Engineering Ethics, Volume 12, Number 2, June 2006 , pp. 321-326(6)
Abstract:The use of role-playing (“active learning”) as a teaching tool has been reported in areas as diverse as social psychology, history and analytical chemistry. Its use as a tool in the teaching of engineering ethics and professionalism is also not new, but the approach develops new perspectives when used in a college class of exceptionally wide cultural diversity. York University is a large urban university (40,000 undergraduates) that draws its enrolment primarily from the Greater Toronto Area, arguably one of the most culturally diverse cities in the world, embracing the largest percentage of Canada’s immigration. Among the area’s five million inhabitants, 50% identify themselves as a visible minority born outside Canada, while over 100 languages and dialects are spoken daily. Although students admitted from this international pool have usually been exposed to western attitudes during secondary education and are rapidly assimilated into Canadian culture, responses to specific ethical issues are strongly influenced by their prior culture. Two and three-part scripts for case studies based on NSF or original scenarios were written to illustrate issues such as gifts, attitudes towards women and ethnic minorities, conflict of interest, whistle-blowing, sexual harassment, individual rights, privacy, environment, intellectual property, and others. Following the presentation, the actors lead group discussion based on previously specified questions. Once the initial shyness and reluctance of some cultures has been overcome through the building of rapport, students have written original scripts based on hypothetical or prior personal situations. The method is now being adopted in a short course format to assist the professional integration of foreign trained engineers.
Document Type: Research Article
Affiliations: Email: email@example.com
Publication date: 2006-06-01